Akashdeep Singh scored a fabulous field goal to guide India men’s hockey team into the finals of the Asian Games after a gap of 12 years with a 1-0 win over hosts South Korea at the Seonhak Hockey Stadium here today.
After squandered at least three gilt-edged chances to take the lead in the first two quarters, Akashdeep (44th minute) received a superb through ball inside the striking circle and without turning he flicked the ball through his legs in spectacular style into the goal past the South Korean custodian Myungho Lee just one minute before the end of the third 15-minute quarter.
The Indian men’s hockey team, which last made it to the final of the Asiad way back in 2002 Busan Games, will now face the winner of the other semifinal between arch-rivals Pakistan and Malaysia in the summit clash on Thursday with the title winners grabbing a direct berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The victory was India’s eighth against Korea in the Asian Games in 14 games, against two losses, and was the 29th overall in 72 matches in all competitions.
The win also helped India reach the final, assuring them of at least the silver medal, for the first time since the 2002 Busan Games. They did not make the semis in 2006 at Doha and then four years ago were shocked by Malaysia in the semi-finals.
The Indians were by far the dominant side on display against Korea in the entire 60 minutes today and controlled the proceedings from the word go.
The Koreans played catch-up hockey throughout the match but failed to break the resolute Indian defence.
There was hardly any clear scoring opportunity for the Koreans, whereas India threatened the opponent goal throughout the encounter.